Tree Table

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CatB95
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Tree Table

Postby CatB95 » Tue Oct 02, 2018 5:43 pm

It's been a while (4 yrs?) since I've accessed the forum. At the time I was getting help with refinishing an antique piano chair.
This time I'm needing help with a tree table.
The tree was a live oak, cut down about 3 months ago. My wife loved the tree but it became too much work (raking, roots under patio, raking, acorns, more raking, etc.)
I found a local custom furniture builder to cut the trunk/limbs into pieces, assemble into a table shape and finish it. This was done after
allowing the wood to dry sufficiently.
An epoxy finish was applied, the results are shown in photo 01. Though it looks great, over the past couple weeks spots of white-ish/gray-ish substance started to form beneath the finish.
I decided to remove the epoxy and clean out the spots. Interestingly, the finish peeled off like thick pieces of sunburned skin. The spots just brushed away very easily.
The table surface is now back to its bare/unfinished state, per photo 02.
My question: what is the best type of finish to use on this type of wood? I'd like a high-gloss appearance while maintaining the natural grain (no stain).
Also what is the best "process" to follow to ensure the above noted problem doesn't occur again. (Prep, etc.)
Apologies for the LONG message. This is important to me, as my wife passed away in 2017. Thanks.

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Bob Boardman
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Re: Tree Table

Postby Bob Boardman » Wed Oct 03, 2018 8:52 am

I don't see any pics. Also, for a tree to properly 'dry' or cure before finishing, it typically takes 6 -9 months.

I believe that it's moisture still resident in the wood slab that has A) caused the white spots under the epoxy, and B) prevent finish adhesion. My advice would be to store slab in reasonably warm space with decent air circulation, for at least another few months before finishing
Bob "Boardman" Borders

CatB95
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Re: Tree Table

Postby CatB95 » Wed Oct 03, 2018 2:47 pm

Bob,
Thanks for the reply. I'll try to attach the pics again. Also, I'll let the table dry out a while longer.
I've just learned the files I tried to attached yesterday were too large (oops).
Attachments
Tree_Table_01.jpeg
Tree_Table_01.jpeg (93.48 KiB) Viewed 2187 times
Tree_Table_02.jpeg
Tree_Table_02.jpeg (56.13 KiB) Viewed 2187 times

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Bob Boardman
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Re: Tree Table

Postby Bob Boardman » Thu Oct 04, 2018 8:52 am

Cat - got the pics. Nice table! Even though there's some checking in the slabs, they're pretty thick slabs so I think more time drying will be beneficial.

Would like to get Sonny's take on this
Bob "Boardman" Borders

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Re: Tree Table

Postby AsonnyA » Thu Oct 04, 2018 12:52 pm

No ifs, ands or buts about it,

1) The slabs are too thick to dry in a short time. Those slabs look to be at least 4" thick, will take 2 years to air dry. You can pay to kiln dry them, if the kiln has accommodations for such small quantity of wood. Kiln drying will likely not prevent checking.
2) Even slow air drying, those slabs will check..... and the bark is likely to slough off.

You can try finishing just the top surface with a water based finish, like Varethane Crystal Floor finish. This finish might adhere satisfactorily to the "dampened" wood surface. By not finishing the bottom surface, you'd be allowing the drying process to occur through the unfinished bottom-side. After some good time (years), the table(s) might be ready for a refinishing of the whole, anyway, then you can apply a finish to the bottom side.

As to epoxy, West System's G-Flex 650-8 is a two part epoxy that is applicable in or under water. The problem with this epoxy is, it's opaque or doesn't have the clear coat finish properties you seem to want, West System might have a clear coating epoxy that is applicable to wet surfaces. I use the GF 650 for adhesive purposes, so I haven't looked or needed the other. Give West Systems a call, click the "need help tab". There's a product guide, there, also. https://www.westsystem.com/

*You'll be hard pressed to maintain the bark on those slabs, no matter how you attempt to keep it on.

A note about logs, drying, milling, etc. .... I've dealt with logging and these sorts of projects for a long time. Ever drive by a logging company, where hundreds/thousands of logs are piled out in their yard? The logs are subjected to a sprinkling system, keep them wet..... plus an insecticide. This sprinkler system prevents checking and bug infestations, until the logs are milled. You might want to cut your slabs in *half, then submerge them for a few months, then air dry them and periodically wetting them. You don't want them to air dry fast. As to kiln drying, ask the folks at the kiln about drying slabs as that. I don't dry my slabs using a kiln, so I don''t know their technique, if there's one, to prevent checking.

*Half size slabs will be plenty sturdy and definitely won't be so heavy. Those slabs are, no doubt, heavy as heck. The whole table a real bear of heaviness..... need a forklift to move it? Green oak is about 50+ lbs per cubic foot... not much less when dry. Cut in half, you can make 2 tables or 1 table and a couple of side tables. Or a cutting block or 2, for the kitchen.

Live oak, aye? Where abouts are you located, Louisiana perhaps?

Sonny
Lafayette, La.

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Re: Tree Table

Postby AsonnyA » Thu Oct 04, 2018 1:05 pm

Come to think of it, there was discussion about finishing with epoxy, on another forum. I think West System's 105 resin was used with their 107 hardener, for finishing purposes.... I can't recall, for sure.

Sonny

Stella365
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Re: Tree Table

Postby Stella365 » Sat Nov 17, 2018 6:39 am

Wow, what a nice table!
Really creative!


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